Sometimes you just have one of those days, don’t you? Days when you are permanently chasing your tail and nothing goes right. You oversleep, you forget to pack a sandwich lunch for your child’s school trip, there’s no clean school uniform and you haven’t got any change for the latest PTA demand. It would be very easy to just go back to bed and pull the duvet over your head. But, as parents, all of us will experience the challenge of parenting in difficult times.
|Everyone faces tough times in their lives|
We are all guilty of being disorganized sometimes and find ourselves envying those organised mums who never seem to have a hair out of place and who radiate loving kindness to their kids and those around them.
But what about when family problems such as a relationship breakdown or illness threaten to overwhelm us? Or when we find debts mounting, or redundancy looming on the horizon?
What is it that great mothers do differently at times like these? Can we learn anything from them?
Some of us find it really difficult to ask for help. As parents, we may also find ourselves prioritizing the kids’ social lives over our own but this is a mistake.
Stay at home mums in particular need adult conversation and the chance to share their problems.
This can’t really be done effectively via Facebook, although I have made some great friends this way. Nothing really replaces a good chat over a cup of coffee.
Takeaway tip: make sure you keep in touch with your friends and family and don’t be shy to ask for help. Reach out to other mums, strike up a conversation and ask them on a ‘mum date’ for a coffee or drink. You’ll probably find they would welcome some company too. When things go wrong you will find your mum friends are an invaluable source of support.
Bad things happen to good people as the saying goes, but dwelling on things you cannot change will get you nowhere and make you feel worse.
Great mothers know how to prioritize and to focus their energies on the things that matter. The health, happiness and security of children will always be one of their primary concerns.
They also know where to turn for the best impartial advice – whether to a solicitor or Citizens’ Advice Bureau for legal help, or to an organisation such as Relate for matrimonial and relationship advice.
There are times when an objective view is needed – and friends and family may often be too involved in a situation to give the best and clearest advice.
Takeaway tip: recognize when you need professional advice and don’t be reluctant to seek it out. There are many sources of free, or low-cost advice and it is better to address a problem head-on than to let matters get worse, for example when debts are growing at an unmanageable rate.
No matter how bad things are now, great mothers hold on to the thought that everything changes and try to stay positive for their children. Focusing on the good things in life is not always easy but if we try we can usually find the good in every day. Teaching our children gratitude for the good things they have in their lives (even if that is just a mother who loves them to bits), is something that will help them to deal with their own problems later on in life.
Takeaway tip: no matter how ‘twee’ it sounds, focusing on the positive and writing a list of things you are truly grateful for will raise your spirits and may even show you a way to deal with the problems you face.
When parenting in difficult times, great mothers know that they have to take care of themselves to be an effective carer for the children (and, these days, probably their parents too). It is not selfish to take some regular time out for yourself, even if it is just for a long bubble bath or a coffee with a friend. They make sure that they eat well and get enough sleep.
Takeaway tip: looking after yourself need not cost a lot of money. Ten minutes of mindful meditation, a brisk walk or even a brief nap will help calm you and clear your head to say can return to your problems with a fresh viewpoint.
We all have times in our lives when things do not go as we hoped or planned but we need to develop our own strategies for dealing with them so that we can look after ourselves, our children and our families.
How do you cope with parenting in difficult times?
For loads more parenting advice, just visit the parenting section of my blog.